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Bottas smashes lap record to deny Hamilton pole for F1 season finale

For the first time in his career, Valtteri Bottas has back-to-back poles in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas in action in Abu Dhabi.
Valtteri Bottas in action in Abu Dhabi.

VALTTERI BOTTAS PRODUCED a stunning track-record lap to deny Lewis Hamilton pole position at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hamilton, who was aiming to level his personal-best tally of 12 poles in a single season, had dominated FP3 earlier on Saturday at the Yas Marina Circuit. When the Briton went quickest after Q2 it looked as though he was course to top the timesheets.

However, in a qualifying session that regularly saw the track record broken it was Bottas — who still has a slim chance of finishing second in the standings with victory on Sunday — that took top billing with a time of one minute and 36.231seconds.

Bottas consequently secures back-to-back F1 poles for the first time in his career, and Hamilton — who wrapped up a fourth world title in Mexico last month — will have to pass his team-mate to end the year with a victory.

Ferrari have struggled to match the sheer pace of their Mercedes rivals this weekend and Sebastian Vettel had to settle for third. The German’s team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was fifth, sandwiched by the Red Bull duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.

Williams’ Felipe Massa made it into Q3 for what will be his final race in F1 and qualified 10th. Niko Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez are on the fourth row on the grid, while Esteban Ocon was ninth.

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION: 

1. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 1:36.231seconds
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:36.403s
3. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:36.777s
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 1:36.959s
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 1:36.985s
6. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:37.328s
7. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) 1:38.282s
8. Sergio Perez (Force India) 1:38.374s
9. Esteban Ocon (Force India) 1:38.397s
10. Felipe Massa (Williams) 1:38.550s

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